Day 6 - 10th September 2014
Mount Tabor - Transfiguration of Jesus, Sea of Galilee, Church of Primacy of St.Peter/ Mensa Christi, Caphernaum-House of St. Peter, White Synagogue, Mount of Beatitudes, Yardenit - the Baptismal Site
Mount Tabor, rising dome-like from the Plain of Jezreel, is the mountain where Christian tradition places the Transfiguration of Jesus.
Scholars disagree on whether Mount Tabor was the scene of that event (described in Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9: 2-8 and Luke 9:28-36). However, it has throughout history been a place of mystique and atmosphere, where humanity has sought contact with the divine.
Mount Tabor stands some 420 metres above the plain in lower Galilee, 7km east of Nazareth. It held a strategic position at the junction of trade routes. Many battles have been fought at its foot.
Mt. Tabor at a distance, as we approached it
Church of Transfiguration
Alter with stained glass window bearing pictures of peacocks
And the apse of the church with the beautiful mosaic of Transfigured Jesus with Moses and Elijah on either sides and the apostles Peter, John and James.
In the corridors on either sides of the church are Chapels dedicated one to Moses
and the other to Elijah
Mount Tabor’s height affords uninterrupted panoramas. From the balcony of the Franciscan hospice, the view is of the plain of Jezreel, bounded by the Carmel range and the mountains of Samaria.
The fertile plain is called “the breadbasket of Israel”, a reminder that one of the meanings of Jezreel is “God sows”.
From Mt. Tabor we move on to the sea of Galilee around which Jesus performed many a miracle including Multiplication of loaves and fish, calming of the tempest and walking on the water and delivered many sermons. We enjoyed a boat trip in one of those large boats which they call Sea of Galilee Worship Boats. No sooner we entered the boat, a sailor hoisted the two National Flags, Sri Lankan and Australian (Israel flag was already there) which was followed by playing the National Anthems. Then the boat was steered to the middle of the sea and a prayer service was held with singing worship songs. The captain of the boat too was a renowned worship song singer.
Among Holy Land sites, the Sea of Galilee has changed comparatively little since Jesus walked on its shores and recruited four fishermen as his first disciples. A picturesque, harp-shaped lake set among hills in northern Israel, it is one of the lowest-lying bodies of water on earth (some 210 metres below sea level).
This freshwater “sea” is 21km long and 13km across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 43 metres. Its other names include the Sea of Tiberias, the Lake of Gennesaret and (in Hebrew) Lake Chinnereth or Kinneret. Fed mainly by the Jordan River and drained by it, the lake serves as Israel’s chief water reservoir.
Jesus made the fishing town of Capernaum the centre of his itinerant ministry in Galilee, using the lake, its boats and its shores to spread his Good News. He calmed a storm, he walked on the water and probably even swam in the lake.
Miracles on the shore
It was around the usually serene waters of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus began his public ministry, teaching in the synagogues and curing the sick. Crowds flocked to him, “for he taught as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:29).
Perhaps his best-known discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, is believed to have been delivered on the Mount of Beatitudes (also known as Mount Eremos). This small hill is on the lake’s northwestern shore, between Capernaum and Tabgha.
Tabgha is also the traditional site where Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Later, across the lake near Kursi, he performed a second miraculous feeding.
The Heptapegon (“Seven Springs”) fishing ground off Tabgha was also the scene of a memorable post-Resurrection appearance.
The apostles had fished all night with empty nets. Just after daybreak Jesus appeared and told them where to find a miraculous catch. When the apostles came ashore, they found the risen Lord had cooked breakfast for them.
Acoustics aided parable
About 1km northeast of Tabgha is a small bay with exceptional acoustic qualities. Here it is believed Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9) from a boat moored in the bay.
The semicircular bay, at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes, is one of the most attractive places along the shoreline. It is called Sower’s Cove or the Bay of the Parables. The slope of the hill forms a natural amphitheatre, rather like a Roman theatre. Acoustical research has demonstrated that as many as 7000 people could hear a person speaking from a boat in the bay.
Pilgrims who test the acoustics, usually by reading the Gospel account, are amazed at how far the voice carries.
This location was also an appropriate setting for the story of the sower and his seeds. There is fertile black earth, rocky ground and plenty of thorns and thistles.
Sudden squalls are common
Because it lies low in the Great Rift Valley, surrounded by hills, the Sea of Galilee is prone to sudden turbulence. Storms of the kind that Jesus calmed (Mark 4:35-41) are a well-known hazard for Galilee fishermen. With little warning, mighty squalls can sweep down the wadis (valleys) around the lake, whipping its tranquil surface into treacherous waves.
Such storms often arrive in mid-afternoon, as the heat of the rift valley (averaging mid-30s Celsius in the shade) sucks down the cool air of the heights. After half an hour, the wind drops and the waves subside, restoring calm to the lake.
In 1986, during a severe drought when the water level dropped, the remains of an ancient fishing boat were found in the lakebed. It was old enough to have been on the water in the time of Jesus and his disciples. Dubbed the Jesus Boat, it is now on permanent display at the lakeside Kibbutz Ginosar.
After the boat ride in the sea of Galilee we went to Tabgha (Arabic form of the Greek “Heptapegon” = “the place of the seven springs”) which is located 2.1 mi. [3.5 km.] southwest of Capernaum. Although not mentioned in the Gospels, it marks the traditional site associated with Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed 5,000 (Mark 6:30–44).
Inside this church of Multiplication of Loves and Fish you can see the rock on which the loves were placed and the famous mosaic representing the miracle which we find in many vestments used for Holy Mass.
In the picture is a traditional Mill Stone about which Jesus says to be hung on the neck and thrown into the sea those who scandalize the young ones
Church of the Primacy of St. Peter
The modern structure was built in 1933 and incorporates parts of an earlier 4th century church. At the base of its walls, opposite the main altar, foundations of the 4th century church are visible. In the 9th century, the church was referred to as the Place of the Coals. This name refers to the incident of Jesus' preparation of meal for the apostles, building a charcoal fire on which to cook the fish.
The church contains a projection of limestone rock in front of the present altar which is venerated as a "Mensa Christi", Latin for table of Christ. According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles, and told Peter to "Feed my sheep" after the miraculous catch, the third time he appeared to them after his resurrection. (John 21:1-24)
When Jesus began his public ministry he moved from Nazareth to Caphernaum making it his second home town. Caphernaum lay in a strategic position between the trading routs at that time. Thus his fame spread far and wide.
Modern church built over the remains of St.Peter's house where Jesus healed Peter's mother in law.
Through the fenced area you can see the foundations below
The octagonal remains are from a Byzantine church enclosing the house of St.Peter.
Excavations here have discovered some remains of ancient tenements.
The layer of black blocks of stone (second below the display board) are the remains of the synagogue of Jesus
Remains of the White Synangouge
A Roman Mile Stone - There are inscriptions of the Roman Emperor on them
The story would not be complete without a date palm!
We had our lunch at a restaurant by the sea of Galilee with St. Peter's fish!
Of the 27 species of fish in the lake, the best-known is nicknamed St Peter’s Fish. This species (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus) belongs to the genus tilapia. Its Arabic name of musht (comb) refers to its comb-like tail.
The nickname refers to the Gospel passage in which Temple collectors ask Peter whether Jesus pays the Temple tax.
When Peter returns home, Jesus tells him to go fishing — “go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me”. (Matthew 17:24-27)
Almost next yard to the restaurant was the house of Mary Magdeline (one with a flag). These houses are fairly small in size.
From there we move on to the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the famous sermon on the mountain. Now there stands a octagonal church resembling the eight Beatitudes.
Our last visit for the day was Baptism at the River Jordan. Some of the members of our group took part in it.
On our way back to the hotel we visited a Diamond Factory. It is said to be the biggest in Israel.
Some of our members bought diamond embedded jewelry from them.